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SKA looks ahead to landmark Meeting in Shanghai

Shanghai will be the stunning venue for the 2019 SKA Meeting: Concluding our Past, Realising our Future (Credit: Steffan Fussan – CC BY-SA 3.0)

SKA Global Headquarters, 12 July 2019: The SKA community is gearing up for one of the biggest events in this year’s project calendar – the 2019 SKA Shanghai Meeting: Concluding our Past, Realising our Future.

Registration is open for the 25-28 November meeting, which will bring together hundreds of engineers, data scientists, astronomers and other experts from within the SKA community and beyond. The focus will be on the immediate and long-term future of the SKA telescopes, from procurement to commissioning and operations.

In a year of milestones for the SKA project, the promises another. For the first time, the SKA Organisation will present the full design of the two telescopes, finally unifying the years of work carried out by the SKA’s design consortia.  This first look at the detailed elements as a cohesive whole will set the scene for the overall System Critical Design Review, taking place at SKA Global HQ just two weeks later.

“So far we’ve seen individual parts of the SKA’s design, like seeing sections of a jigsaw but not the full image,” says Tim Stevenson, SKAO Head of Mission Assurance and EOC Chair. “To see those pieces put together, the culmination of all that effort from teams around the world, will be quite momentous for all involved.”

For the past 18 months, critical design reviews have been taking place for nine of the SKA’s international engineering design consortia, each focusing on a key element of the telescopes’ design. The System CDR will ensure these individual pieces can operate as one and meet the exacting system requirements for the SKA to achieve its science goals.

“For those who may have watched the SKA’s progression from a distance, this is the point at which we can say: this is what we will build, and now is the time to get involved,” says SKA Director-General Prof. Phil Diamond. “From the engineers who will construct this amazing machine, to the data scientists who will keep it at the forefront of innovations in the field, and seasoned experts in commissioning and operating existing facilities – we want to grow our community and this meeting is the perfect opportunity to do so. I encourage all interested parties to join us in Shanghai.”

As well as the design preview and talks by colleagues at precursor, pathfinder and peer projects, there will be sessions on the latest developments towards the network of SKA Science Regional Centres (SRCs). These SRCs will be supercomputing facilities dotted around the globe that will be processing and hosting hundreds of petabytes of data, acting as the final interface with the end users, namely the scientists and astronomers.

To remind the assembled delegates, who will be mostly engineers and managers, of the true significance of their endeavours, each day will commence with a science talk, addressing major topics in the SKA’s science case, delivered by astronomers in those respective fields.

Co-hosted by the SKA Organisation and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Shanghai Meeting will provide an opportunity for our Chinese partners to celebrate the significant contribution of Chinese institutions to the SKA to date. This has included leading the international Dish consortium designing the SKA-mid antennas -including the fabrication of two prototype dishes, designing the synchronisation system for SKA-low within the Signal and Data Transport consortium, and contributions towards science operations planning.

Attendees will have the chance to visit China’s flagship radio astronomy project, the Five-hundred metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), which is the world’s largest filled aperture radio telescope. This mega-science endeavour, constructed in just five years in a natural basin in China’s southwest Guizhou province, can offer numerous lessons for the SKA as it heads into procurement and construction.

All are welcome to attend the meeting, and further information on how to register can be found at the following link: https://indico.skatelescope.org/event/551/overview